The Week I Spent

April 13, 2008
By Alessandra Coote, Media, PA

Laughing to myself, I quietly reminisced on the week I spent with communists…
Lugging two tons of luggage down the hilly, narrow, terracotta cobblestone streets with stucco walls closing in on either side, my family assembled before the small café where we would be spending a week. The olive green overhang and a small mosaic table in front contrasted with the dark chestnut wood cast a warm, cozy feel to the place. But the window adjacent over-powered the inviting atmosphere of the café/hotel. In bold black lettering, "Il politica partito de la comunista," read the sign in the window. Pictures of President Bush and the American flag littered the window, with captions that roughly translated to "America: the World's greatest Evil!" The picture that flew into my mind was that of tall, scary men and dictators with large guns marching to kill Americans. I shuddered at the thought. As my family stood gawking at our home for the next week, which tripled as a café, hotel, and communist headquarters, a tall, slim lady in a colorful patchwork dress danced out to great us.
"Ciao! Ciao! Buon giorno! You must come in! You are the Piazza's? Yes? Good," the lady sang out, "let me introduce my self, I am Giovanna de Garda Lucia. Here, here, I'll show you to your rooms."
Sweeping us all inside, she floated up the well-lit stair case to retrieve our keys. The room smelled of fresh pasta in the pot; the aromas of olive oil, garlic, and basil intertwined to create a permanent accessory to the place. It was just like any other café in Italy; a long, narrow bar to serve drinks was hidden in the back while matching green tables and booths were neatly arranged in the front of the café. The green and white striped walls were covered by black and white pictures of political leaders staring down at the hungry customers. Looking around, my eye was captured by the sticker on the back of the black cash resister- " Il politica partito de la comunista." Again the picture of military marching men shot into my head, and I wondered if this was the safest place to be staying. This stereotype was shattered once again as Giovanna came waltzing down the stair case.
"All righty now, your rooms are all ready," Giovanna called out to us, "you sightsee? Oooh you absolutely have to see Lake Garda by boat! And you have to hike the mountains that surround the lake! Rio Del Garda is a beautiful town!"
Thanking her graciously, we began our long trek up the staircase, dragging the luggage with loud clanks behind us. Reaching the hot, humid top floor at last, we dragged our bags across the wooden floor to the two thick wooden doors with our room numbers on them. In between the two doors stood an old table covered in dust. Perched on it was a vase, which was so dirty and covered in dust it almost was black, the actual color of the vase completely hidden from view.
We spent the entire day strolling around the picturesque village of Rio Del Garda. Nestled in the Italian Alps on a mountain lake, the village was dwarfed by the majestic cliffs which the aqua blue lake reflected perfectly. Hiking up and down the steep, narrow cobblestone streets of Del Garda, my family returned to the café exhausted. The café was stuffed to the brim of men and women talking rapidly in Italian, all knowing one another. Breaking mid conversation, Giovanna leaped up to her feet and introduced us to all the people in the café. When introduced, without delay everyone stood up and hugged and shook hands with the entire family. We were celebrities that night; everyone wanted a chair at our table to talk to us. The little black pin on everybody's breast seemed meaningless that night. The pin said, "Il politica partito de la comunista."
I made the long trek to bed early that night. Before I lethargically dragged my feet into my room, I noticed the vase. It was no longer black, but a mosaic of bright yellow, orange and red sunflowers that seemed to reflect the dim light of the lamp on to the glistening table. Sighing, I slowing climbed into bed and fell asleep.

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